Build the farm system through the draft. Grow the arms, buy the bats. Sound familiar?
I am on board with all of that, but in order to do that you need draft picks and Andy MacPhail has made some poor moves that will now work against him. In MLB, you cannot deal draft picks as in the NFL, but you can have picks added or taken away based on free agents that you acquire or lose.
Free agents are broken up into two classes: Type A and Type B. The class is determined by the Elias Sports Bureau, which ranks each player by position. If a player is in the top 20% they are type A and if they are in the 21%-40% range they are type B.
Signing a type A free agent will cost a team their 1st round pick as long as it is not in the top 15 or it will be their 2nd round pick if it is in the top 15. The team that loses the free agent also gets a “sandwich” pick between rounds 1 and 2.
When it comes to a type B free agent, the team that loses them only gets a “sandwich” pick.
Also, tying into this is the fact that the team losing the free agent must offer arbitration to the departing free agent in order to receive compensation.
What did MacPhail do in the past year to affect this?
First, he dealt Gregg Zaun for Rhyne Hughes. I’m sorry, but Rhyne Hughes was not a prospect when he was acquired. He was a guy that started last year in AA, at age 25. At the time of the deal he had struck out 149 times in 440 AB’s between AA-AAA.
Sure, we didn’t have a spot for Zaun with Wieters, but he only logged 94 AB’s with the Rays before becoming a Type B free agent and declining arbitration from the Rays. This move netted the Rays the #42 pick in the 2010 Draft.
Basically, MacPhail chose Rhyne Hughes instead of the #42 pick. Do you really think Zaun would have accepted arbitration to stay on this horrible team?
Next, it was the signing of Mike Gonzalez. Let’s just forget the fact that Mike Gonzalez has been a disaster on the field. The Orioles had to give up their 2nd pick which was #53 overall (Gonz was a Type A FA) to acquire a closer for a team that wasn’t going to be in contention anyway.
Two moves that cost the team two picks they surely could have used. Was MacPhail thinking ahead? Or better yet, is he currently thinking ahead?
The Elias rankings do not come out until year end, but there are people who have “reverse engineered” their formula to get up to date rankings. What will he do with Kevin Millwood who could potentially be a type A player? If he chooses to deal him, he had better get something solid in return or he could keep him and offer arbitration which he would surely decline.
I want to give MacPhail the benefit of the doubt but his recent track record suggests he will make more short sighted mistakes in the near future.